I have never been to Slovakia and I was waiting for it a lot. Then when I had an occasion to visit the country, to see my good friend and for a so special evenment, I couldn’t be unhappy!
In the mountains
The connection between Katowice and Žilina seemed for me confortable, clean trains every hours crossing the Zywiec Beskids mountains in the southern Poland. There are no direct train, but a realiable change takes place in Zwardoń, near the border.
The journey takes arround five hours with a 15 mintues stop in the little village. There is no possibility to miss the train. The station is so small that the two unique ways are used. Just need to enter in the only other train waiting. I asked to a man in poor Polish confirmation of that train destination. « Tak! »
My arrival in Žilina
The phone setting is important
First of all I want to tell you a little thing that could save your trip: do not disable the roaming on your phone… It make my hollidays more stressfull (and more memorable, but I would have prefered to not undergo the drawbacks).
If no roaming, your phone won’t work abroad. Seems stupid but I disabled it before going to Poland, instruction were not clear and I though I configured something else on my phone…
The train arrived in the evening and it was already the night, winter time youhou. I was really happy to have seen the sunset between the mountains from the train.
The first thing to do was to join the center. I didn’t really know how the city mapping was and I just walked after have ask people in the street.
Get simcard, my fourth one!
I found the Mistral market, with café and free wifi. I used it to communicate with my friend to let her know that I was in Slovakia. In the market was also mobile phone company and I get my prepaid simcard for 10 euros. Lot of hours of communication and unlimited internet, another thing which will became helpful to me.
Trolley buses made in Cezchoslovakia
Some route informations and I went to my hotel by the original Slovakian old rusty trolley bus still in use in the whole eastern Europe! Love it 😀
Back to old town for lazzy evening
My friend is not living in Zilina and she couldn’t managed to come there during my first day. We have arranged to meet the day after. She didn’t wanted to let me alone and give my new number to her friend, but he finaly couldn’t meet as well.
I made my own tour in the center, not so big so I didn’t got lost :p I saw the main interests that night and had a beer in a pub. Beers are very cheap there, about 1euro for half a liter. Smoking inside is allowed. Haven’t see smokers in such environment since a long time (law anti-smoking in public space in France).
First morning in the old town
I woke up quite early and walk to the center. I did not take the trolley because it is one every 20min and you need only 15min to reach the center.. It was my choice to avoid the trolley bus in Žilina. That plus fact I did not understand how tickets works.
Good for me nearby my hotel was a park and the momument of Ľudovít Štúr.
My tour was not very long, I stayed in the old town area : the main square with the church of Saint Paul the Apostole and the Andrej Hlinka square with its large christmas tree and Slovak National Uprising monument. Because I had to go in the evening to Povazska Bystrica I bought my ticket when I went to the train station for photos. The train station itself looks nice with large and colorful stained glass.
Last day of 2012
Outside the regular places
I start with a lunch in a Pizzeria restaurant indide the main shopping center of the city. Cheap beer there as well!
I have seen some new place on my way to Budatin (I was trying to get a bridge) such as market of Žilina, the Rosenfeld Palace now use as a recreation place for children, a cinema in a old synagogue or the pink building of the University! I got lost a bit behind the train station in a very strange district I would not go back again. Too much weird people there.
No Budatin for you
On the other side of Žilina is a castle, in the city of Budatin. I really really wanted to visit it but it is simply impossible to cross the river by walk. I absolutly needed a car. Too bad.
2013 is comming!
My second time abroad
Contrary to my last year spent in Tallinn, this new year’s eve took place in little city, tourists friendly but not crawed. People prefering to go to Bratislava the capital. Shops closed earlier and I managed to buy a sparkiling wine bottle. I keep it cold by simply putting it outside my hotel window! While it got colder and colder I went for a nape.
A shower later and I was ready to go to the centre for picking up my friend at the train station. Because we had time she decided to show me her previous school and some other places I must know before leaving. It came out that I have seen all of them in the morning The Rosenfeld Palace, the University… but off course I didn’t know what they were.
We decided to go to drink in some warm place to wait for the fireworks. The plan was she choose a place and after I must find one. Funny because she lived here for years and it was just my second day in Zilina.
First pub wasn’t good, the waiters seemed didn’t like us and the customers were … special. We had more pleasure with the second place. Friendly waiteress and good music.
Fireworks in the main square and on the new market square
Like for the last year in Tallinn there was two kinds of fireworks: the official one startign at midnight, and the unofficial one starting from 17:00 in the suburbs of Zilina. I was more amazed by the early begining than by the hundred of little explosion everywhere. On the main square some guys were launching the rockets one hour before the correct time, it made the waiting period nicer. 00:00, at the first seconds of 2013 Zilina launched a large fireworks (considering the city size). We were watching it with our hotdogs. No music, just light. Simple event but truly awesome!
I finished my communication credit when calling my familly in France.
When it stopped we heard the second firework of the Andrej Hlinka square, I think we missed most of it because it was extremly short. We watched it from the Parish street, tiny way with tall building in both side, location was special and charming. We walked to the esplanade where more people stayed, some playing to though small petard on people… dumb guys. One even managed to photobomb the only nice photo I have of us! What a stupid man.
Dance, eat and party more
After the fireworks and once the sparkling wine bottle drank we moved back to the main square where music was playing and people dancing. It was not awesome DJs, but still fairly enough to keep the festive mood going! I almost made friend with the crazy old woman of the party, and my friend met the crazy old man of the party. We were both lucky. Previous years was a concert instead of the DJing, but my friend told me that it was too expensive and the city get tired of cleaning all the shit after.
Starting to be angry I desired to find a restaurant somewhere open to have late diner. We only found a kebab restaurant, good enough for the time and better than R-Kiosk burger… We met there two of her friends and follow them to different place, ending in a good pub that I already forget the name. It was great and funny until 4am when I felt really tired and wanted to come to my bed.
Last time in the nothern Slovakia
Difficult morning but visiting my friend’s father
With just four or five hours of sleeping I felt quite bad, my head turnt a bit, not a hangover, I could did what I wanted but get up from the bed 😀 I hadn’t drank that much but I was getting tired already and seven days were coming…
Near the hotel is the house where her father lived. She wanted to say hello and wish good things for this new year. We could even got a coffee and sandwichs, it hepled us a lot to recover.
Walking to the station
The house a bit more in the south making the walk to the railway station a bit longer. Luckily the morning was warm and sunny. It took about thirty minutes to be in the station. Off course we stopped a bit at every good points we passed by for me to take photos. The old town square and the main square basically.
Last momment in the train
If I had bought my ticket the day before it was not her case, we had to take the same train: she will step out at the first stop and me at the last, 170km after.
We sat and watch photos, remembering some anecdotes from the night in the town. When the train stopped we said goodbye a last time and made the promize to meet soon in Poland if we can’t arrange it in Tallinn.